1830 (ca.): Canova presenting recovered Roman treasures to the Pope

Kommentiert von: Matilde Cartolari

After surrendering to Napoleonic troops in 1797, the Papal States had to cede to the French government one hundred selected masterpieces from their collections. In accordance with revolutionary ideology, this process represented a way to democratize the former aristocratic and clerical culture by exhibiting it in the newborn French public museums. Napoleon’s defeat in 1815, however, prompted claims for restitution by the restored sovereigns. Given the difficult political situation, Pope Pius VII Chiaramonti turned to the unassailable authority of Antonio Canova, universally acknowledged as the greatest artist of that time, to negotiate the restitution of the confiscated artworks.

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